Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dream 16 "The Bombing of Toronto" (Billy Bishop, 1941)

Billy Bishop dreamed that the first few people to spot them that night saw little more than dark splotches on the horizon. But soon they were clear to everyone: mammoth zeppelins floating in across the lake, soaring above the islands toward the sleeping city. As their shadows reached the shoreline, it began. Deep concussive thuds. Flashes of red and silver and green. Railway lines snapped in half. Buildings of stone and brick crumbled into the streets. Air raid sirens wailed.

With the blimps came small planes with four wings, crude wooden dragonflies buzzing along King Street, up Yonge, down Bay. Bullets sprayed across storefronts and streetcars. Fires raged. None other than the Red Baron himself shot up past Union Station, darted between the smouldering boulders of the collapsed Stock Exchange, and fixed his sights on City Hall.

By then, Billy Bishop had already scrambled into his cockpit and lifted his plane into the air. He might be an old man now, but he’d have one last chance to save the day. 


Billy Bishop was one of the most famous fighters pilots of the First World World. He shot down 72 German planes, more than nearly any other pilot in the world. The Canadian government forced him to retire before the end of the war, worried about what would happen to morale if he died. Bishop would be treated as a celebrity for the rest of his life, making public appearances on behalf of the military even during WWII.

You can true stories about Billy Bishop here. Explore more Toronto Dreams Project postcards here.

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